Too many people live lives of quiet desperation.
They wake up with a low level sense of dread, anxiety, or sadness.
They go to their jobs and feel under-utilized, unappreciated, and underwhelmed.
When they get home, they feel mentally and physically exhausted, with just enough energy to take care of the kids, fix a meal, and plop on the couch to watch a few hours of TV.
Then they wake up and do it all over again.
Even if this doesn’t describe you exactly, I’m sure you can relate. We get in our ruts. We accept less than our dreams. We stay in jobs that don’t inspire us or make us happy. We’re stifled by inertia and confusion about how to change.
Life has a way of swallowing us up, and before we know it, we’re far down a path that feels nothing like who we are or what we want for our lives. By the time we realize it, we have obligations and responsibilities that add yet another reason to stick with the status quo.
When we’re in this position, it feels wildly indulgent to ask, “What is my passion?” Why set yourself up for disappointment when you can’t do anything about it? You might entertain the question briefly, let your mind wander to all of the possibilities, only to be jarred awake to the reality of how impossible it would be. Or at least, so it seems.
Asking yourself this question can be the impetus for recreating your life. It happened for me. It’s happened for hundreds of my clients and students. What if you ask the question and find the answer? What if you find the answer and discover how to make it part of your life? Maybe it seems impossible, un-figure-out-able. But bear with me for a bit, and you may change your mind.
“What is my passion?” Here’s why you need to ask yourself this question today:
1. You’ll uncover your authentic self.
If you’re asking the question, “What is my passion?” then you can’t be living authentically. Being authentic means being true to who you really are. Many of us don’t figure out who we really are until we’re far down the road being who we aren’t. Once you ask the question, you open the door to discovering your authentic self. What is your real personality? What are your natural interests and inclinations? What gets you excited and inspires you?
As you search for your life passion, these questions must be answered. As you uncover the answers, you recognize how your current life does and does not reflect your answers. You see what must be changed, and you begin to resist anything and anyone that feels inauthentic. When you recognize your true self, you feel compelled to shed anything that undermines it.
2. You’ll get clear on your values.
Part of recognizing your authentic self requires that you define your core values. In fact, one of the reasons you might have been flailing in life or unsure what direction to take is that you never defined your values. These values should be the guiding principles for your life. They serve as the barometer to help you make all important decisions. When you don’t live in alignment with your core values, you will inevitably be unhappy and off-center.
If you don’t know your core values (both for your personal and professional life), then take a few minutes to define them. Here’s a list of 400 value words to help you. Narrow them down to your top 5-10, and then use them to help you make the right decisions moving forward. Always ask yourself, “Does this choice support or undermine one or more of my life values?”
3. You will define your life priorities.
When we think about living our life passion, we invariably bump up against conflicting life priorities. Yes, we want to find work we love, but everything else seems too important to compromise. We don’t want to live with less. We’re afraid to move. We don’t want to cause upheaval for our families. We don’t want to risk making the “wrong” decision.
One of the most enlightening things you learn as you uncover your passion is how quickly it puts priorities into perspective. Think about something in the past you were really excited about and how quickly you were motivated and energized to make it happen. You figured out a way to overcome obstacles and inner resistance because your excitement overrode these issues.
As you ask the question, “What is my life passion?” and come closer and closer to finding the answer, your life priorities will gradually become more and more clear. You’ll be amazed at your own resourcefulness and determination when you have your eyes on the prize. Many people stop asking the question because they worry about their life priorities, so they never reach that point of excitement and motivation. Find your passion first, and the details will take care of themselves.
4. You’ll get your financial house in order.
There are definitely practical considerations to address when you seek your life passion, and money is one of the most important. You need to make money, and you need to have money saved to pursue your dream or prepare for time without a job. If you are in debt, this needs to be paid off before you can save.
You might consider taking an additional part-time job in the evenings or on weekends, selling some of your stuff, and cutting back on entertainment and non-essential expenses until you pay off debt and create six months to a year’s worth of savings. This sounds hard, but it’s for the short term and will give you a lot more wiggle room when deciding on your passion.
Your passion may lead you to a career that pays you more than you make now. Or it may require you to make less, which generally turns out to be OK if you are much happier and more fulfilled in your job. It’s hard to put a price on career satisfaction. If you do make less, then you’ll need to plan your finances accordingly. That means scaling back and learning to live within your means. You’ll discover when you’re happy, you really need far less than you once thought you did.
5. You’ll grow comfortable with uncertainty.
We all want to know for sure that everything will work out. We want confirmation that what we think is our passion really IS our passion. We want the assurance that we won’t fail at it. We want the security of having a regular stream of income. We want a guarantee that things will definitely get better — not worse.
As much as you want everything under your control, you have to know that nothing actually is in your control. Life might appear certain and safe now, but anything can happen at any moment. Just look at Facebook or the news to see how many unexpected events happen to people every day. No one is immune to it.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the status quo is safe. Maybe it will be for a while, but in the meantime you may die of boredom. Accept that uncertainty is around you all the time, and by pursuing your life passion, at least you’re corralling uncertainty in the direction of your dream. You are making things happen rather than just waiting for them to happen. Over time, uncertainty won’t scare you as much. In fact, you may learn to enjoy the adventure of it.
6. You’ll test your assumptions.
When your ask yourself, “What is my life passion?”, you’ll find a variety of negative thoughts pop into your head. “I don’t have a passion.” “I’m too old to pursue my passion.” “I don’t have enough money to go after it.” “People will think I’m crazy.”
We all have knee-jerk assumptions about the bad things that could happen, our own abilities, how difficult something might be, or what we “should” do (rather than what we want to do). But when you ask yourself about your own life passion, you’re entertaining the possibility that finding it and living it just might be possible.
Possibility always challenges assumptions. If you begin with the possibility that you can live a passionate life, then maybe your negative assumptions are all wrong. What if you do have a passion? What if you aren’t too old? What if you can make enough money? What if people think you’re brave and amazing? Any of these outcomes are possible. You just need to test them with real-world experience.
7. You’ll meet new, like-minded people.
Part of seeking your passion involves research, experimentation, and testing out your ideas. You do this by finding people who are already successfully (and happily) pursuing the passion you are considering. You can ask them questions about the day-to-day aspects of the work. Maybe you’ll find a mentor or friend willing to meet with you regularly to give you input.
I suggest people volunteer or take a part-time job in their area of interest to really see what it feels like and if the reality matches expectations. When you do this, you’ll be exposed to more people who can give you feedback and insights. When you are surrounded by people who love what they do, it is highly motivating and inspiring. It makes you want to seek out other people who have something exciting and interesting going on in their lives.
Finding the right tribe of people is so valuable when you’re pursuing your life passion. Not only are they motivating and inspiring, but also they can be resources for building a business, finding a job, and getting clients.
8. You’ll open doors to unexpected possibilities.
I can’t tell you how many times this happened to me in my passion pursuit. You’re happily proceeding down one path when another wonderful opportunity lands in front of you. This can be disconcerting when you think you’re clear on your passion, but I highly recommend investigating these unexpected opportunities. They often lead to something better than you ever anticipated.
Once you open your mind to chasing your passion, you become a magnet for interesting possibilities. Not in some magical way — but your demeanor, enthusiasm, and tenacity become highly attractive to other people. You’re no longer the sad sack who bemoans his lot in life, but rather you’re someone who makes things happen and is willing to take calculated risks to live a better life.
9. You’ll find creative solutions.
You’ll meet obstacles along the way to living your life passion. Everyone does — it’s part of the territory. But rather than viewing obstacles as a “sign” that you’re doing the wrong thing, you’ll find that the pull of your passion gives you the creativity and motivation to go through or around them.
When I first started my blog, I knew nothing about computer technology or how to build a successful site. But I was so excited about coaching, writing and sharing ideas online that I tackled a huge learning curve in a very short amount of time. When you’re highly motivated, there’s very little that’s insurmountable. You’ll be amazed at what you’re capable of doing and achieving.
10. You’ll spark hope, anticipation, excitement, and tenacity.
By asking the question, “What is my passion?”, you are suggesting an answer awaits you. It does. The only thing standing between the question and the answer is your willingness to seek it. Rather that allowing the question to spark fear and uncertainty, allow it to spark hope, anticipation, excitement, and tenacity.
Remain hopeful that your passion is out there waiting for you. Anticipate and expect that you will find it if you seek it. Get excited about the possibility of a new life with your passion as the centerpiece. Be tenacious and unwavering in your efforts to find it and make it happen.
It basically boils down to choosing a positive or negative attitude. You can choose to fear the worst or decide to anticipate the best. Generally our attitude dictates our results.